A Short Introduction to Behavioural Philosophy

“Take the situation in which you have a lot to lose and little to gain. If an additional quantity of wealth, say, a thousand Phoenician shekels, would not benefit you, but you would feel great harm from the loss of an equivalent amount, you have an asymmetry. And it is…

The Psychology of Persuasion

In this video I talk about what it takes to persuade someone.When is the last time someone told you a fact that caused you to change your mind? It’s likely you can’t think of a verifiable example.And yet, when it comes to trying to persuade others,…

How to Design Effective Reward Systems

Rewards reinforce desired behaviour. Rewarding your dog makes him learn new tricks faster. Rewarding school kids for good grades motivates them to study harder.But rewards have to be varied in quantity and intervals to be truly effective. BF Skinner’s experiments revealed that a hungry pigeon would tap a…

How to Incentivise and Reinforce Desired Behaviour

In the 1920s, B.F. Skinner conducted a series of experiments to study how rewards and punishments affect our behaviour.Skinner, unlike his contemporaries, refused to hypothesise about what happened inside the minds of people and animals, and preferred to focus on what we can observe. He believed more in…

Why Compensation Systems Fail

When Hanoi was under French colonial rule, they discovered that their villages had a rat problem. So the regime created a bounty program that paid a reward for each rat killed.To get paid, people would provide a severed rat tail and get a little cash. Colonial officials, however, began…

How Disincentivising Bad Behaviour Reduces Corruption

“If a builder builds a house and the house collapses and causes the death of the owner of the house-the builder shall be put to death. If it causes the death of the son of the owner of the house, a son of that builder shall be put to death.…

A Scientific Way to Call BS on Someone’s Argument

My friends and I joke that a lot of films credit any kind of mental disorder of a character usually to either parental abuse, mummy/daddy issues, or some kind of trauma that occurred in the past.Personally, I blame Sigmund Freud for this whole debacle. In case you are…

How to Make Your Opinions Stronger Through Falsification

Let’s do a small experiment.Suppose I present you with a number sequence: 2-4-6. I tell you that the sequence follows a certain rule, and the task is to calculate the underlying rule. You are allowed to present other strings of three numbers, and ask whether or not these…

How to Make Small Bets and Win Big

In my previous article, I talked about the benefits of running small experiments, and taking small bets—where you control your downside, but expose yourself to massive upsides.If you start small, get your feet wet, and test things out without becoming too invested in a decision, you can tinker…

How to Invent The Future

Contrary to popular belief, most successful founders don't begin with brilliant ideas-they discover them.Facebook started as a social network for college students. Pixar started by selling high-end computers for animation. And Twitter was a podcasting company before this.Facebook expanded upon the idea of social network. Pixar stayed in…